The good news during dark valleys

None of us welcomes emotional pain and heartbreak.  Yet, on this earth, we know we will encounter trials and pain. Often, that pain is experienced in our marriage.  We can get really frustrated that God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayer to “fix” our marriage or husband!   But Jesus never promised he would take away all our problems during our temporary stay on earth.  In fact, he said in John 16:33 “in this world you will have trouble.”  Fantastic.

However, if you look closely, you will discover two rays of sunshine in the midst of your darkest hours.  First, Jesus finishes that verse in John 16:33 by saying, “But take heart!  I have overcome the world“.  That is a great reminder that though we will have temporary troubles here, Jesus has prepared an eternal destination for us that will be completely free of heartbreak and suffering.  It will be glorious beyond our imagination!

Secondly, and here’s the point I really wanted to make….it is at the time of our biggest heartbreak that we often experience God’s presence in a way we’ve never known before.  When we choose to cry out to him and seek him during our time of grief and suffering, he promises to come close.  Very close.  Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit“.  If you’re in the middle of a really difficult time in your marriage, don’t miss the opportunity to draw close to God and encounter his love, compassion and comfort at a spectacular level!

Do this before offering your husband advice

My. My.  I guess I’m reminded once again about the power of our words.  A few days ago, I wrote a devotional about the power of pausing during a heated conversation with our men so that we refrain from responding with words that are harsh or mean….something we’ll likely regret later.  Well, today I was reminded of another reason to pause.  As women, we need to pause before we offer casual bits of advice or “wisdom” to our husbands.

I don’t think we realize how our guys are greatly influenced by us!   We might think they aren’t really paying that much attention to a casual suggestion we toss out, but often they are.  In fact, many husbands in the Bible were greatly influenced by something their wives said, and the wives rarely had good advice!  I think especially of Sarah telling Abraham to sleep with her servant in order for him to have a son, since she was getting impatient waiting for God to fulfill his promise to give her children! Read the story in Genesis 16:1-4 and you will find out Sarah’s decision didn’t turn out so well!

So, let’s think twice before we offer a morsel of our brilliant counsel during a conversation with our men.  I did this recently, and my husband acted upon it.  I hadn’t really even thought it through, let alone prayed about it. Thankfully, there was no harm done, but it got me to thinking about the need to really pause and pray about any suggestions or counsel I decide to pass on to my husband.  How about you?

6 Bible verses for anxiety attacks

So many of us struggle with fear and anxiety, and sometimes that struggle escalates to a full-blown anxiety attack.  We know that God does not intend for us to live in debilitating fear, but how do we break free?

I’ve personally found much relief by applying these 6 Bible verses:

  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 “we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”. This means when fear-based, hopeless, defeatist thoughts enter my mind, I need to examine them and ask whether this is something God would say!
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober-minded and alert. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”  This means when I notice my thoughts are becoming hopeless or fearful, I need to recognize the devil is whispering those thoughts to me!  I must take a stand and refuse to align my thoughts with the devil!  Sometimes I even hold out my hand and shout “NO”.
  • Isaiah 41:10 “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  This means I remind myself that I am not walking through my challenges and worries alone.  Jesus is right there beside me all the time and all the way.
  • Romans 8:28 “And we know that God works all things together for good for those who love him”  This means that I remind myself that even if my worst fear comes to pass, God can still bring something good out of that situation.  That brings me comfort.
  • Psalm 139:16 “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  This means that when fear-based thoughts enter my mind, I choose to remind myself that God already knows my future and my kid’s future.  Nothing that happens to me or my kids will take God by surprise!  He knows the future.  He’s already there.
  • James 4:8 “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you”  This means I choose to pivot from the fear and turn toward God in a very deliberate way.  When I do that, He comforts me!  “Drawing near to God” could mean everything from turning on a worship song, to reading the Bible, to calling a faith-filled friend, to hugging my actual Bible as I lay down to go to sleep at night.

— or view this topic as a 5 min VIDEO HERE

This will soften his heart toward you

You want to know a sure-fire way to soften your husband’s heart toward you?  Be humble and quick to apologize when you have been disrespectful toward him!  I say “when” instead of “if” you are disrespectful because ALL wives gravitate toward being disrespectful from time to time!  Much of the time, we don’t even recognize that we’re being disrespectful.

Let me give some examples.  You roll your eyes when he forgets to do something.  You sigh dramatically and shake your head about his “cluelessness” when he doesn’t meet your expectations.  You ask his opinion about something but then point out the flaws in his thinking.  You might even be disrespectful by giving him the silent treatment when he fails to eagerly pitch in to help with the household chores.

When a wife acts disrespectfully toward her husband, he often hardens his heart toward her as a means of self-protection.  So, if you would like to soften your husband’s heart toward you, ask God to help you catch yourself the minute you say or do something that communicates disrespect.  Then, be quick to sincerely and humbly apologize.  A powerful apology contains these words:  “I was wrong to ….” and “please forgive me”.  Your humility will go a long way in softening your man’s heart.  Humility is a virtue we need to intentionally put on every morning.  Colossians 3:12 puts it this way, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Understanding your husband’s brain!

Sometimes, men are so hard to understand!  When we first see our husbands at the end of our work day, whether working away from home or inside the home, we LOVE to talk about how the day has gone.  We eagerly await our husband’s arrival so that we can share the details about the children, the crazy thing the neighbors did today, the weird stuff that happened at work, etc.  We LOVE to verbally process the day with our husbands.  But guess what?  Most men loathe communicating with their wives as soon as they walk in the door.  They long to spend some time in their “nothing box”.  Huh?

It’s hard for women to understand a man’s need for his “nothing box” because most women don’t even know what one is!  I’ve had a few men explain it to me, and here’s the basic idea.  After a long day at work, most men need to enjoy either quiet or mindless activity in order to decompress from their day.  This means your husband probably doesn’t want to hear the fascinating details of your day as soon as he walks in the door and he probably doesn’t want to talk about his day either…at least not for a while.

So, give your husband some space when he first walks in the door.  Greet him with a smile and a kiss and then allow him some time in his “nothing box”.    You will become more beautiful to him.  God says this to wives in 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”

A huge way you can impact your husband

Does your husband wrestle with a destructive addiction?  Is your husband carrying way too much stress from his job?  Does your husband seem depressed?  Is your man uninterested in pursuing God?  It’s easy for you to sink into despair, but instead, I challenge you to pray for him continually, and with total faith in our powerful God!

I’m not saying that prayer is the only thing you should do, but it is one of the most powerful things you can do for your man.   Yet, often we tend to do more whining to our girlfriends than praying for our men.  We often spend too much time drowning in a pool of self-pity instead of saturating our days with earnest prayer.

Seek godly counsel from a pastor or wise female mentor to gain insights into whether you need to take specific action with your husband.  Those actions may include establishing boundaries and imposing consequences. Perhaps you will be directed to see a counselor yourself.  Maybe your pastor will schedule a talk with your husband to see if he can help.  However, your main job as your husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18) is to pray for him.  Pray for him throughout the day.  God says in James 5:16 that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective“.  So get on your knees and get busy praying.

I have seen God do some pretty amazing things in response to earnest, continual prayer.  He can even change your husband’s heart!  (Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart)

What to expect of your husband

Revealing what a wife should expect of her husband is a tricky thing!  Yes, we should expect our husbands to love us, and even to sacrifice their interests for ours.  The Bible says so.  It’s in Ephesians 5, in case you want to look it up for yourself 🙂  It says in verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

The tricky thing is that no husband can perfectly live up to that expectation.  Therein lies the challenge.  As wives, we yearn for a perfect husband who cherishes us, adores us, romances us, sacrifices himself for us, shares his feelings with us, courageously protects us, diligently provides for us, tenderly raises children with us, spiritually leads us, and on and on.  Whew! That’s a long list!  Frankly, only Jesus could hit the mark on all those expectations, and guess what?  Your husband isn’t Jesus.

So, back to the original question.  What should we expect of our husbands?  I believe we should expect our husbands to strive to be the kind of husband described in Ephesians 5:25, while at the same time we need to realize that he will fall short of that mark because he’s human.  That’s where we need to take on the character of Christ ourselves, striving to be “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8)

What wives need to know about Facebook!

It’s happened yet again. Another wife almost blew up her marriage, and it all started with Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against Facebook.  I love keeping in touch with what’s happening in the lives of my friends and family through Facebook posts.  However, the devil takes warped delight in taking something good and turning it into something disastrous.

We need to be wise to his schemes to kill our marriages!  Here’s what the scheme looks like:  You become curious about that old boyfriend or man from your past, so you look him up on Facebook.  It seems totally innocent.  You’re just curious.  Then you pop him a little message asking how he’s doing.  He responds.  You guys reminisce about shared experiences in the past.  You begin bonding emotionally.  Then ever so slowly and slyly, Satan starts to reel you in.  Soon, you begin believing that he’s your true soul mate, and an affair is just a step away!  This is happening every day across America!  One recent post on a divorce website noted that 20% of all divorce petitions contain the word “Facebook”.

Don’t let this happen to you.  As wives, we must be aware of Satan’s schemes and we must fight against the temptation to connect with any man on Facebook.  1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith…”    Please don’t shake off this warning.   Fight against the urge to connect with men from your past on Facebook!

— or view this topic as a 2 minute VIDEO HERE

Handling the key moment during conflict

I hear quite a few stories of women, both married and unmarried, who tell me how arguments get heated in their relationships.  Their husband says something critical, and they dish it right back at him.  Their boyfriend says something unkind, and they lash right back at him.  In both cases, arguments quickly evolve into a really ugly war because neither one paused before responding.  Pausing is one of the most important moments in any relationship!  It is the KEY moment!

The Bible says in Proverbs 12:18  “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”   It is SO important to pause instead of reacting with reckless words!  So the next time you feel your temper about to erupt, pause for 5 or 10 seconds.  Ask God to show you in that moment how He wants you to respond. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what will likely happen if you say what you feel like saying in this tense moment!  (Usually, the Holy Spirit will show me that those words I was about to say will cause some serious damage in the relationship!)  You may even need to leave the room during this pause.

By the way, if you’re texting back and forth with your guy, you may need to put down your cell phone and pray before you text back!!  Remember, once those words have been voiced in person or typed in on your text, you can’t take them back.  “Pausing” is one of your best friends in any relationship!

Use the “power of one” in your marriage!

Each weekday, I offer a devotional intended to help wives. Yet, I have a funny feeling that some of you might be questioning why I’m always urging wives to change their behavior, look for ways to bless their husbands, and be more selfless in their marriage.  I can almost hear you asking, “What about him? Am I the only one who’s supposed to work on this marriage?”

Well, here’s a news flash for all of us.  We can’t change our husbands!  Only God can change a man’s heart.  We can establish boundaries.  We can encourage our men and offer wise counsel to them, but at the end of the day, we can’t control them.  We can only control us!  However, by changing the way we interact with our men, we can dramatically and positively impact them.  It’s the amazing power of one person to make a difference!

So, let’s all commit to working on ourselves.  Let’s look for ways to encourage our men, help our men, respect our men, and serve our men.  If your husband is engaged in a pattern of sin against you or your kids, commit to respectfully and lovingly setting boundaries on that behavior.  As you continue doing this week after week and month after month, I bet you’ll see a change in your husband and an improvement in your relationship.

Don’t give up. Don’t be pessimistic.  Press on.  Meditate on this wonderful promise found in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”